After saying goodbye to Ken-san, Sachiko and Akiko picked me up again. Akiko wanted to take me to her house and to Yamazaki-san’s house. Both are right near the train station. On the way there we passed Kiri-san’s house.
Akiko’s niece Chiaki was on the last exchange. She lived with Akiko, for all intents and purposes Akiko is Chiaki’s mother. Akiko’s house is still standing, but totally ruined. Her mother’s room is the one on the far left. As we were walking through she said, “welcome to my home”. It was filled with debris. One of Chiaki’s shoes was on the floor. We came out to the back of the house where Chiaki’s room was. All that is left is the concrete foundation. Her room had been torn from the rest of the house and washed away. Akiko said that she had talked to Chiaki right after the earthquake and she’d said that she was ok. But after the tsunami came she never heard from her again. She said that she still believes that her mother and Chiaki will come back.
Next she showed me Yamazaki-san’s house, just on the other side of where the train station was. It’s a foundation and a pile of debris. She had set up a little shrine where the front door had been (the porch step was still there). On it were his cymbals, a small record player, his favorite food and drinks and some flowers. She said that she felt that he was watching us, watching me visit Otsuchi. She hopes that the exchange program will go on, to honor him. I told her how much we all loved him, how many lives he touched. There’d been a student from the UK who had contacted me on Facebook. He had known Yamazaki-san and wanted to know if he had survived. He had told me how much Yamazaki-san had meant to him, how he’d changed his life. I told Akiko about him and how he had friends all over the world.